French Tech Startups | A Look at Speedinvest's Portfolio in France
Since 2011, we've invested in more than 300 startups in more than 40 nations. Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, France, and Spain are currently the countries we've invested in most in Europe. Why and in what companies? Keep reading for a deep dive into our French portfolio and exclusive market insights from our sector-focused investors. Click below for a breakdown of our other top European markets.
French Tech Startups: On A Mission
Paris is on a mission to become Europe’s largest startup ecosystem. The numbers show that they’re well on their way. The French startup ecosystem was valued at $89 billion in 2021 with $5 billion in total early-stage funding. According to Startup Genome, Paris’ greater metro area is home to approximately 12,000 startups. That’s more than both London and Berlin.
France itself ranked third in Europe with respect to VC investment in tech companies in 2021, behind only the UK and Germany, with $11.5 billion invested in 2021. That's more than a 140 percent increase year over year across 600 transactions. France also counts 29 unicorns to their name –– 16 of which just became unicorns in 2021 –– and 4 of them are in the field of climate tech.
Fortunately for us, we’re able to keep a close eye on French tech startups from our office in Paris and we're actively increasing our presence in the market. In 2022 alone, we made seven investments in French startups. And looking across our more than 20 French portfolio companies, 2 have already raised Series A rounds, 2 Series B, and 1 Series C.
But, as always, we want to do more. That's why we've brought our sector-focus approach to France and are looking to capitalize on the wealth of innovation happening across the French startup ecosystem.
Speedinvest France Deal Flow
Our deal flow in France is growing considerably to the tune of 3,526 percent from 2017 to 2021.
Among those we see approximately 35 percent of our French deal flow coming from SaaS & Infra since 2017. Fintech, marketplaces, and climate tech and industrial tech are right behind, each comprising approximately 16 percent of our French deal flow.
An Overview of our French Startups
With more than 20 total investments in the French startup ecosystem, there’s a lot we could talk about. From our office in Paris, we’re constantly scouring for additional opportunities for investment in France. Our cross-sector investment teams actively partner with founders building deep tech, fintech, and healthtech to climate tech and industrial tech, marketplaces & consumer, and SaaS & Infra startups. They also collaboratively fund the technologies that are reshaping our industries, redefining global economies, and securing a future for us all––crypto, and emerging markets.
Below, our investors dive deep into our portfolio and explore the opportunities we see on the ground.
French fintech is a resilient industry. When the COVID-19 pandemic started to hit the economy in 2020, French fintech companies defied the trends and raised €828.2 million with 63 deals. That was an 18.9 percent increase from 2019, according to France Fintech––an industry trade group.
Our fintech partnerships are among our most prolific among our portfolio of French tech startups. From Luko and Lemonway to Finary and EXA Finance, we’ve long been invested (no pun intended) in France’s fintech ecosystem.
Earlier this year we partnered with Rollee, a platform for employment data used by clients from fleet management to lending to ensure decisions are made with a fair, data-driven approach. Along with our SaaS & Infra team, we partnered with Starton––billed as the most powerful developer suite to build Web3 applications at scale. And continued our investment streak in 2022 with partnerships with Flowdesk (a $30 million Series A to boost their flagship product) and Drop (a $5.5 million seed round to help the company grow).
"France has historically been an innovative country with a great pool of talent for the financial industry. With a new generation of tech entrepreneurs and a favorable political landscape, we are seeing some of the most promising financial technology companies emerging in the region.” –– Alexis Majos, Associate at Speedinvest
SaaS & Infra
Like our Fintech team, our SaaS & Infra investors have spent the last couple of years actively seizing the opportunity in France. Besides Apiday, a joint partnership with our Climate Tech and Industrial Tech team detailed below, we’ve partnered with incredible startups, like Flaneer, Qovery, June, Opal, and Actiondesk whose platform allows automatic importing of data, pre-defined calculation and manipulation of that data, and eventually contingent data output or triggered actions. In covering their $3.2 million Seed round earlier this year, TechCrunch boasted about the possibilities with Actiondesk, including its Zapier integration.
We partnered with Opal to help the startup grow their digital well-being tool that empowers users to develop better screen-time habits. With 200,000 downloads to date, Opal’s internal research shows that users save an average of two hours of screen time per day and 94 percent feel less distracted.
June, a lightweight B2B SaaS product analytics tool, allows startups of any size to get actionable insights and custom-built reports in seconds, not hours. And Qoveery, a Container as a Service platform for developers, simplifies the process of getting apps into production by pushing code from Github or GitLab and deploying it directly to AWS, Digital Ocean, or Scaleway instantly.
Last but certainly not least, Flaneer has developed a solution to access virtual machines to help the growing base of remote workers use programs like Adobe, Maya, and Unreal that require increasingly powerful computers as home laptops quickly become obsolete.
“SaaS & Infra are firmly embedded in the world of work, especially in the move towards remote working. The French ecosystem has always been home to highly skilled engineers, one of the perfect elements to help mark itself as a giant on the global startup map. In France, SaaS & Infra is verging on ‘must-have’ status and we are thrilled to be a part of the ecosystem.” –– Audrey Handem, Associate at Speedinvest
When looking into the European landscape, France has the second-largest number of digital health startups founded in the last 10 years. To get there, the country had to overcome several challenges, such as a lack of investment in digital infrastructure and slow adoption of digital technology, both by the general public and by healthcare professionals.
Today, the sector is flourishing with startups such as Doctolib, an online doctor appointment scheduling platform (raised $866 million) or Alan, a health insurance platform and one-stop shop improving price-quality ratio and user experience for patients (raised $560 million). In February 2022, the launch of MonEspaceSanté, a national digital health system that stores, monitors, and shares health data in complete security, marked a milestone in the adoption of digital health in France.
Our health team has seized this opportunity by partnering with incredible startups in the French ecosystem. The first French healthtech startup we were excited to back is is Five Lives. The digital therapeutics startup has just launched a brain health mobile app allowing people to measure and reduce the risk of dementia through a personalized brain coach. Another example is Charles.co, an integrated digital clinic specialized in men’s health. With no topic too taboo, Charles is addressing chronic health issues in men, including sexual health, hair loss, and insomnia.
“With an ambitious and pragmatic approach towards digital health, France managed to create a perfect soil for the growth of innovations. We are excited to be part of this ecosystem and to be the best partner for digital health entrepreneurs in France.” –– Estelle Botbol, Associate at SpeedInvest
Marketplaces & Consumer
Speaking of climate tech, our Marketplaces & Consumer team has also partnered with Paris-based Lizee. The company’s white label software and logistics solution allows sellers to offer their products for rental rather than for sale. Lizee came to the scene not a moment too soon thanks to an anti-waste French law that banned the destruction of clothing, cosmetics, electronics, and other items that have not been sold.
We’ve also partnered with Simbel––a startup operating in the field of employee development and the improvement of working conditions. France is historically a strong advocate for employee rights. With the introduction of a law which requires employers to train their employees, we believe that France will remain an interesting place for innovation around our daily work life.
France is also becoming a growing hub for startups tackling the circular economy, B2C and B2B Marketplaces, EdTech, eCommerce, and more. Simply put, there’s an abundance of amazing opportunities in France.
“Being the home turf of many successful B2B and B2C marketplaces, such as BlaBlaCar, Vestiaire Collective, Ankorstore and SoRare, we believe that these great businesses will empower the next generation of entrepreneurs to build something themselves. We are ready and committed to be the best partner for French marketplace and consumer startups.” –– Max Wilhelm, Associate at Speedinvest
In 2019, President Emmanuel Macron announced an initiative to fund 500 deep tech startups to the tune of €2.5 billion per year over five years starting in 2025. This is on top of the boom of deep tech startups focused on health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccines made available in just a year’s time thanks in large part to deep tech. France is seizing Deep Tech as an opportunity to stand out as the world’s preeminent deep tech hub.
Suffice it to say we see significant potential here.
But it’s not just about what we see coming. It’s about what we’ve already seen. Our portfolio company, MyDataModels, is the developer of TADA, an analytics platform powered by artificial intelligence. They're working to make artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science available to everyone.
“France has historically been a territory of scientific, technical, and engineering excellency. Today this knowledge not only continues to thrive in academic settings, but is also successfully being transferred into world-leading deep tech startups. We are so excited to see the French deep tech ecosystem thrive, and we will continue to support local innovators in their journey to commercialize some of the world’s most disruptive technology.” –– Emily Meads, Associate at Speedinvest
Climate Tech and Industrial Tech
According to our 2022 Industrial Tech Report, France is the second-largest industrial tech market in Europe––just behind Germany. As of this writing, French industrial tech has received $827 million in funding this year or $2.7 billion from 2015 to 2022.
Climate tech is the fastest-growing theme in France, doubling every year. We specifically see this in the industrial tech sector with new materials, chemicals, food and agriculture, and construction––riding on the success of incredible businesses, like Ynsect, Backmarket, and Vestiaire Collective.
“We are excited to bring relentless support to France’s most visionary founders who share our common goal of ensuring the future of industry is digital and decarbonized.” –– Namratha Kothapalli, Principal at Speedinvest